Thursday, August 23, 2007

A new pair of genes

The completion of the Human Genome Project (HGP) has helped scientists to understand that all humans on earth today can be traced back to a small population of hominids living in Africa 60,000 years ago. Now we know our code – thanks to DNA.

But what about open source software? Our research at Black Duck makes it clear that if you reuse or share software, there's a better than average chance are that a few (or more than a few) open source “genes” have become part of your company's electronic DNA [link to the finished paper]:

Over 80 percent of IT organizations reuse software components[1], and if yours is like most organizations, chances are good that you have at least some open source within your code. In a recent survey of software developers[2], 77 percent said they used open source libraries, 60 percent used snippets of open source project code, and 50 percent used Linux.

But sorting through your code's “genetics” is a complicated business that requires individual lines of code to be checked against a comprehensive database to trace its origins.

Black Duck's ever-evolving open source software code database – which we leverage in all our products -- is what you might call an Open Source Genome Project (OSGP). Just as the HGP can help you trace your origins back to the grasslands of Africa and beyond (it turns out we share DNA with sea urchins and worms), the OSGP can help you trace the origins of the open source code you're using. This is useful for a variety of reasons, not the least of which are licensing requirements and software audits.

As it is with humans, so it is with software -- it's always a good idea to know your code.

[1] Source: Gibson Marketing Group, June 2007

[2] Source: Black Duck Software, 2006

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